Head of Alexander the Great
Plaster cast, Ministry of Culture Casts and Reproductions, Greece, 1988
Dimensions: H 35cm
Acc #: CC24, James Logie Memorial Collection
Copy of a marble head of the Alexander the Great, ca. 335 BC
Found at the Acropolis, Athens
Acropolis Museum, Athens, #: 1331
The original of this head of Alexander the Great dates to the end of the Classical period, when Alexander was around 20 years old. Alexander's elaborate hair seems almost like a mane, as it falls over his forehead and covers his ears. This is not only reflects his youth, but also the way in which Alexander was 'lionised' for his military achievements. Alexander’s eyes are set deep into his face under strong brows, which may be an over-emphasis of his features in order to achieve greater contrast. In this way, the treatment of this portrait looks forward to the sculpture of the Hellenistic period.
Alexander III, king of Macedonia, was a renowned military leader who conquered one of the largest empires the world had yet seen. This head, which was found at the Acropolis in Athens, is attributed to the sculptor Leochares, who is said to have sculpted the Apollo Belvedere.
Athens was involved in the Corinthian League, which was a federation of Greek city-states that formed a military alliance. This League was founded by Alexander's father, Philip II of Macdeon, whom Alexander succeeded in 336 BC. Given where it was found, the original statue is most likely to have been an honorific dedication to show gratitude or appreciation.
A short selection of references for this work includes:
- Albersmeier, S. 2009. Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum
- Davidson Reid, Jane. 1993. The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s. Oxford: University Press
- Greek Ministry of Culture. 1988. Catalogue of Casts and Reproductions. Athens: Archaeological Receipts Fund
- Heckel, Waldemar. 2006. Who's who in the age of Alexander the Great: Prosopography of Alexander's Empire. London: Wiley-Blackwell
- Hurwitt, Jeffrey M. 1999. The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology, and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present. Cambridge: University Press
- Payne, Humfry, and Gerard Mackworth-Young 1950. Archaic Marble Sculpture from the Acropolis. London: Cresset Press
- Pollitt, Jerome J. 1986. Art in the Hellenistic Age. New York: Cambridge University Press
- Spivey, Nigel. 1996. Understanding Greek Sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson